Northolt Park Baptist Church, 28-10-07 Putting it into perspective 5 minutes on… Gun Culture Contrary to public perception, the level of gun crime in the UK is very low – less than one- half of one per cent of all crime recorded by the police is gun-related. Over the past few years, the law has been strengthened on firearm possession: In America, the term ‘Gun Culture’ is used to identify advocates for the legal and legitimate • A minimum five-year sentence is now imposed for people convicted of possessing an use of guns, including using guns for self defence, sporting uses such as hunting, and illegal firearm recreational uses including target shooting. In the UK it is generally used to refer to the • It is now an offence to possess an air weapon or imitation firearm in public without legal illegal ownership and use of guns. authority or reasonable excuse Facts and figures on UK gun crime • The age limit for possession of air rifles is now 17 • London, the West Midlands, Greater Manchester and Nottingham account for more than • Air weapons that are easily converted to fire live ammunition have been banned half of the recorded gun crime in England and Wales. The Violent Crime Reduction Act 2006 includes provisions to: • In 2004-2005, 34% of recorded gun crime occurred in London. • Target imitation firearms – by making it illegal to manufacture or sell imitation firearms • Between April 2001 and October 2005, 63% of victims of murder and attempted murder that could be mistaken for real firearms, strengthening sentences for carrying imitation involving firearms in London were black. firearms, and creating tougher manufacturing standards so imitations can’t be converted • Gun crime is mainly committed by young men aged 16-25. to fire real ammunition. • Shotguns can be purchased in London for as little as £50. • Reduce illegal use of air weapons – by increasing the age limit for buying or firing air • There is an increasing number of people using firearms to settle relatively minor disputes. weapons without supervision. Drugs remains the single most important theme in relation to the use of illegal firearms, • Reduce the supply of firearms into the country by tightening security on import routes but gang membership and the desire to emulate successful criminals are also important and international mail, and monitoring online firearm suppliers. factors. Tackling the rise in gun culture In south London, ‘crews’ in key areas such as Brixton, Peckham and New Cross have Home Secretary John Reid said, “There is not a single, simple solution to keeping guns off territories that include housing estates and shopping centres. Guns are used to enforce these our streets. Policing and tough penalties must go hand in hand with education, community ‘patches’. action and personal responsibility.” Even minor disputes can result in shootings because the presence of guns aggravates threats The Church Consultation on Violent Crime, recently launched by Premier Christian Radio and makes pre-emptive attacks more likely; the so-called ‘shoot or be shot’ scenario. and the Metropolitan Black Police Association, reveals that 65% of churchgoers thought Chief Constable of Manchester Police Michael Todd said, “We have got 14 and 15-year-old their churches should be involved in reducing violent crime by working in partnership with kids walking around in body armour. When we do house searches, we find 13-year-olds in the police. possession of firearms.” As Rev. Kirby, whose organisation Hope for London aims to combat violent crime in Chief Constable Keith Bristow, the chief police officers’ firearms spokesman believes that London said, “Churches can help people put their lives back together, but they can also offer official gun crime figures does not reflect the reality. He said, “There is significant under- opportunities to young people to stay away from gun crime in the first place. We’re in a reporting of firearms use. There is an increasing use of guns in robberies. We are not just unique position to be seen as honest brokers.” talking about traditional bank raids. We are talking about robberies in streets, homes and cars.” What you can do about gun crime Children as young as eight are now used as gun runners. Older gangsters use younger If you see people carrying firearms, report it to the police. brothers and cousins as weapons couriers because they were below the legal age of criminal Visit the Connected website (http://www.connected.gov.uk/) to find out how you can get responsibility. involved in community projects to fight gun crime. In Brixton, pizza delivery-style gun-running occurs, with gangsters paying teenagers to deliver a handgun to a customer who has hired it for 24 hours.